50 Years of Umko 1966 - 2016 1966 - 2016 - Page 72

©Jon Ivins official Angus Sinclair. His Hewlett Packard 85 machine had exciting possibilities: It could punch out the results within a half-hour of the cut-off time! Perhaps. At first, though, the “bubblesort” procedure was rather slow and the manual timekeepers raced the HP85, beating it handily - just as the chessmasters used to beat Big Blue. After several program amendments the HP started to get the hang of things. Overnight Kit Nowadays paddlers keep their own overnight kit, but in the first four decades you had to hand your kit to the organisers for them to take it to the overnight stop for you. Ernie Alder tells us how one year heavy rain forced the organisers to leave the paddlers’ kit in the valley on Green’s farm on the North bank at St Elmo’s (down the original old “Voortrekker” road to Cunningham’s Drift). Before they left they reversed the two kit trucks back-to-back with the doors against each other so they could not be opened. They left the hired UMKO 50 Years security guards there and drove out. Later, Farmer Green went in on horseback to give food to the guards. At the finish some paddlers were desperate: “I have air tickets to Aussie and my passport in my bag!” “I have a special key to open a bank vault in my bag!” A week later farmer Green phoned to say “You can come now”. Ernie, Charlie and Roy Swingewood drove down into the valley to fetch the trucks. Roy (with a truck licence) and Charles (without) drove the trucks to the clubhouse at Blue Lagoon. The sopping wet kit was locked up, with only Ernie and Durban’s Oldest Teenager Bill Barron having keys. All paddlers were instructed to mark their kit clearly. And of course, they did just that, making Ernie’s life easy. Ja, right! Can you hear Ernie laughing weakly? NOT! KCC helpers (like Pete Zietsman who needed hi s bag urgently so came in and helped) sorted out the marked kit (a few bags), then went through the mountainous pile of unmarked bags, opening and searching for identification such as credit cards in wallets and then labelling bags and sorting them into piles judging on addresses found. One wallet had R7000 in it. The kit - spread on the lawn to help the search - was starting to smell a bit ripe. The “Transvaal” pile - now smelling worse - got shipped to Dabulamanzi Club in JHB thanks to Daphne Hawarden’s courier connections. Ernie and Colin Mercer left Durban at 11pm and drove to Jo’burg to be at Dabulamanzi early the next morning. Paddlers had been notified to fetch their kit at Dabs Club from 8am. Paddlers came in, searched, found their kit, signed for it and left. One bag had expensive camera equipment in it, and was fetched by the relieved owner. Another worried-looking owner claimed 72